Clinton: “Keep the cranes up. Keep the voices free. Keep the votes fair. You’ll figure it out.” #GFA20

Political leaders of old and today gathered at Queen’s University, Belfast for a day of events focussed on the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said that people “should realise that this agreement was never going to support all the problems of Northern Ireland” while former US President Bill Clinton had a triptych of advice for NI: “Keep the cranes up. Keep the voices free. Keep the votes fair. You’ll figure it out.”

GFA 20 Years On: A Community Reflects

The Tánaiste Simon Coveney TD will be in West Belfast next Tuesday, 10th April, to deliver a keynote opening address at a Féile an Phobail event to mark the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. The event, titled ‘The Good Friday Agreement 20 Years On: A Community Reflects’ will take place in St Mary’s University College on the Falls Road beginning at 8.45am, and will also feature keynote speeches and contributions by former Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD, … Read more

Sceptical, not cynical about “the long drawn out attempt to breathe life back into the Stormont arrangement”

Whilst on Saturday Brian highlighted the question of “the prospect of Sinn Fein’s return to Stormont as Mr Adams’ parting gift”, today Ed Moloney posits another, equally plausible scenario… You know, a cynic might suspect that the whole thing, at least the long drawn out attempt to breathe life back into the Stormont arrangement, was staged or timed so that the breakthrough would happen just when Sinn Fein want to present a new, Adams-free image to the electorate down South, one … Read more

Could the DUP handle the return to Stormont as Gerry Adams’ parting gift?

The  papers are at one in running  the story that a Stormont deal may be imminent next week. But  “with more work to be done” the emphasis ranges from glass half full to glass half empty. The Irish News headlines “ speculation quelled as differences remain ” while  Suzanne Breen now bylined as the paper’s  political editor, sticks her neck out  with the quote from “sources” that, “we may not have an agreement within hours but we are potentially on the … Read more

A mockery of a negotiation so far

So “huge differences remain” if you’re the DUP  but “good progress” was made if you’re a novice British minister  reading off the pre-prepared NIO script. What else don’t we know that the political correspondents can’t be bothered to say? The role of the chair is unknown – co-chairs, facilitators or dynamic leaders with a cunning plan ready to view? “We do not negotiate in public” said Sinn Fein’s Conor Murphy last week as if for all the world this was … Read more

“The truth remains that Adams will only reveal his past if it suits his own agenda.”

We might never know the truth about the suggestion that Gerry Adams was responsible, directly or indirectly, for setting up the Provisional IRA’s East Tyrone Brigade for ambush as they tried to blow up a police station in Loughgall in May 1987.  Sinn Féin have dismissed the claims as “utter nonsense”, and some of the usual suspects have busied themselves playing the man – and/or the media. Meanwhile, Ed Moloney provides some useful background, and reproduces the chapter in his book ‘A Secret … Read more

“…the policy he was so central to for so long was toxic to public morality.”

Just putting this here because I think it tails nicely with Diarmuid Ferriter from Saturday and Newton Emerson last Thursday. It’s Colm Keena on Gerry Adams… The career of the politician and republican activist Gerry Adams has shown an almost unerring capacity over the decades to get the important things wrong. This marked capacity is as true of his time as a leader of a movement committed to the use of killing and destruction in pursuit of its aims, as … Read more

Diarmaid Ferriter on Gerry Adams: “Many political careers end in failure; some just end in irony.”

It’s worth quoting at length from historian Diarmaid Ferriter in Saturday’s Irish Times on the ironic legacy Gerry Adams leaves for Sinn Féin. Fianna Fáil continued to invoke its republican “heritage” while determinedly staying the revisionist course; the same conclusions are likely to be reached about Sinn Féin under Adams. One of the reasons for the self-righteous defensiveness beloved of Adams was precisely to mask the revisionism, or what has been referred to as the “creative ambiguity” of peace process … Read more

Continuity between Adams’ failed war and failing peace is to ‘establish the conflict as eternal and perpetual’

A powerful piece from Newton Emerson, in yesterday’s Irish Times… The first person the IRA murdered after Gerry Adams was elected Sinn Féin president was Charles Armstrong, the Ulster Unionist chair of Armagh City and District Council. Adams became president on Sunday, November 13th, 1983. The following evening, a bomb exploded under Armstrong’s car as he left a council meeting. An SDLP colleague, Pat Brannigan, risked his life by pulling Armstrong from the burning wreckage. Armstrong left a wife and eight children, who heard the explosion from … Read more

Amnesty for security forces foreshadowed in the DUP deal

Just a footnote to yesterday’s post on the government’s floating of an amnesty for security forces. The Irish News follows up predictably enough with angry responses to what they rightly report as the adoption of the recommendation of the Commons Defence Committee report  just before the general election. The committee, which includes DUP MP Gavin Robinson, said that the pursuit of members of the crown forces was “wholly oppressive and a denial of natural justice”. “It can be ended only … Read more

A plea to Gerry Adams from a Falls Road boy

In recent times we often hear the narrative that has been orchestrated so carefully by apologists for Sinn Fein – namely the huge personal risks that Adams and Mc Guinness took for peace. I do not believe that such an argument is credible. The people that really took the risks for peace down the years were those in the northern catholic community (and indeed outside it also) who defied the IRA and whose political and moral courage often cost them … Read more

The government need to come clean urgently on their bungled proposal for a security forces amnesty

After Sinn Fein held their meeting with Theresa May this afternoon,  Gerry Adams diverted from the apparent failure to make progress on restoring Stormont with a genuine issue: a potential amnesty from prosecution for security force members who served in the Troubles is to be floated by the British government. The Irish News carries the fullest version of the story by the PA.  What’s being floated is a statute of limitations in a fundamental and unilateral amendment to the 2014  Stormont … Read more

Mary Lou to pick up Gerry’s legacy or just to orchestrate his long good-bye…

Given the previously cited ten-year transition, sceptics will doubt the reality of Adams’ departure. In fact, he’ll likely melt back into the collective leadership of Sinn Fein. With only Sean Murray left on the Ard Comhairle, the military men now mostly sit back in the shadows. Their names are not widely known to the public but they are familiar to senior members in other parties from the periodic bouts of negotiations that might almost have been engineered to give them … Read more

Gerry Adams and Robert Mugabe have something in common

How ironic that the eras of Mugabe and Adams are drawing to a close at roughly the same time. Both are men of blood. Both remained in office for unhealthily long periods of time, reflecting the essentially undemocratic nature of their political machines and their origins in armed insurgency. It now turns out that neither is departing immediately. Of course  there are significant differences. Adams will go with the adulation of his followers and  continuing influence. Mugabe led  the majority … Read more

Fresh start for Sinn Fein, or a case of “meet the new boss, same as the old boss”?

And so tonight, Gerry goes. Or does he? Henry McDonald writing yesterday: …sources within the mainstream Irish republican movement and veteran Adams-watchers believe the 69-year-old will still hold the centre of power in Sinn Féin from behind the scenes long after his official successor is elevated to the top post. Having survived as head of his party longer than five British prime ministers, six Irish premiers and five US presidents, Adams will use the televised speech to set out a timetable for … Read more

Real work to restore the Executive has yet to begin. For the public to make an impact, proposals and pressure from the governments are essential

As a comparative outsider I’m struck by how most commentators are obsessed with speculating about political positioning and identity narratives. This has produced numbing negativism and  despair  rather than the energy needed to approach the daunting but practical problem of trying to restore the Executive.  Being case hardened and calloused, they endlessly refine their own explanations for obvious failure. They accept the parameters set by the DUP and SF too readily. To be fair, this is often the default caused by a … Read more

Belfast man sentenced in Germany for 1996 Provisional IRA attack on army barracks

A timely lesson from the German authorities on dealing with Northern Ireland legacy issues…  Having successfully extradited 48-year-old James Anthony Oliver Corry from the Republic of Ireland in December last year, the Belfast man has now been convicted and sentenced for his role in the Provisional IRA mortar attack on a British army barracks near Osnabrück, Germany, in June 1996. From the Irish Times report A Northern Ireland man has been convicted in Germany of attempted murder for participating in an IRA attack on a British army barracks in the … Read more

More delay over a return to the Assembly needs challenging by the two governments

So  the target date for either direct rule  or an agreement to revive the Executive has slipped  for  another week at least. What a surprise!   We were told by the two governments yet again that ” progress” had been made, but this has been slapped down by the DUP. Sinn Fein’s agenda as far as I know it is not inherently unfeasible. The problem is that it’s Sinn Fein who’s running with it.  Crafty old Gerry for false-footing the DUP?  Or … Read more

Ten more years! Ten more years!

Having been billed in advance as ‘significant’, there’s been a noticeable absence of applause from the usual suspects for the recently re-announced, but yet to be revealed, Gerry Adams’ Sinn Féin’s 10 year plan for leadership change a “process of generational change”.  [Do those ‘suspects’ know who they are? – Ed] Probably… [And does ’10 years’ mean this generation will miss out? – Ed]  Possibly… On the other hand, properly sceptical observers have had a field day… Suzanne Breen in the … Read more